Business Intelligence vendors seem to embrace collaboration (I am
still struggling whether this software is any different from the
groupware we had in the 90's) . As an example please take a look at SAP streamwork at
youtube. I am gonna be blunt here; this type of software is completely
useless, unless the organization is willing to fundamentally change its
decision making process.
Let me try to make my point here with the help of giants like Galbraith,
Daft, Davenport and some..
There are basically two information contingencies; Uncertainty and Equivocality.
- Uncertainty can be defined as the absence of information (e.g. Shannon and weaver) and can be overcome by simply asking the right question. The answer is out there.....
- Equivocality is an ambiguity, the existence of multiple and conflicting interpretations about an organizational situation. Participants are not even sure about the questions that need to be asked, let alone the answers they need. I think this can also be regarded as 'wicked problems'.
Now, for overcoming Equivocality the Business Intelligence stuff like reporting and even analytics have diminishing usage. You need more 'richness' in the tooling. And with tooling I don't necessarily mean software. Examples of more rich tooling are group meetings, discussions, planning, creative (group) thinking, etc..Simply put; you need face-to-face contact.
Davenport wrote an article about 'Make Better Decisions' in the Harvard Business Review in 2009. He is advocating a more formalized approach towards decision making:
'Smart organizations can help their managers improve decision making in four steps: by identifying and prioritizing the decisions that must be made; examining the factors involved in each; designing roles, processes, systems, and behavior to improve decisions; and institutionalizing the new approach through training, refined data analysis, and outcome assessment.'
Davenport, in my opinion, is aiming towards the equivocality and a more formalized method of coming to an outcome. And frankly, I like it a lot. But organizations need to really be willing to change its decision making process. And this is a major organizational and cultural change in my opinion. If organizations are really committed (Davenport is naming a few of those companies - like Chevron, The Stanley Works) in making this change, collaboration software has the potential to shine in supporting such a decision making process.
I am however afraid that collaboration software from BI vendors will be sold as candy with the promise of better decisions. And that is just bullshit and my prediction is that it will fail big time.